While it’s easy to call this a totepack, that’s not exactly accurate. Satchelpack? Pursepack? CrossbodyPack? The Cambiata has a lot more in common with Tom Bihn’s Cafe Bag series than it does with many totes we’ve seen. That’s not a bad thing, just a point of distinction when it comes to deciding how you’ll use this bag. With totes, you’re often carrying them at your side by the handles, or over one shoulder. Realistically, that’s not going to be the case with the Cambiata.
We’ve found it’s best to treat the Cambiata like a crossbody first and foremost, ignoring the backpack straps for a moment. The single handle on the rear doesn’t lend itself well for anything other than picking the bag up – just like on a backpack. The longer included strap can easily be adjusted in length depending on if you prefer that classic crossbody fit or if you want to just be able to throw it over a shoulder quickly.
The Cambiata’s real trick is the readily available backpack straps that tuck into the rear sleeve. Both the straps and their connection points at the bottom stow away when not in use and stay out of sight and out of mind.
These are Tom Bihn’s Contour straps, which are a minimal yet comfortable dual strap setup for their smaller bags. Not quite as beefy as their current Edgeless straps, but a major upgrade from webbing straps. They’re definitely best suited to the shorter amongst us. If you’re over 6′, you might not find them the best fit. Luckily, our household is well under that mark.
The pocketing on the Cambiata is unsurprisingly solid. Tom Bihn is usually a go-to for those who love thoughtful pocketing. On the exterior alone there are four options to stuff your gear into. Two small zippered pockets on the right-hand side, a zippered bottle pocket on the opposing side, and an open top pocket on each of the front and back sides. It’s worth noting that the rear open top pocket is only really usable in backpack mode, and anything in there will probably push into your back – so choose wisely! There’s also a laptop sleeve on the top side rear of the pack. It’s well padded and raised but worth noting that it’s lined with lightweight, gray nylon – not the chosen liner of the main compartment.
Around the inside we have one zippered compartment under the lid – anything heavy here will weigh the lid down, so this is best for small items like keys or a wallet. One side has two open, elastic-topped pockets, while the other side is left free from any clutter. The back side has one full-height, open, elastic-topped pocket – very similar to the front internal pocket on the Synapse and Synik packs.
The Cambiata couldn’t be mistaken for anything other than a Tom Bihn piece. While at first we were a little confused as to how this was a totepack, we really started to dig it after we let any of those preconceived notions go. It’s exactly what it was designed to be, and needs to be. The Tom Bihn Cambiata is at home at the office, cafe, or even on your next trip.